Some Grave, Some Gay
Tins is a second selection of pocket literature provided by the Times for the men in the trenches during the War. They were intended to be " a numerous and varied selection of the best passages, grave and gay, from English verse and prose, to be printed on flyleaVes . . . . sold in mixed sets at a very low price . . .." The compilers certainly succeeded in choosing for their grave passages some of the most inspiring pieces of our literature, and for their gay passages some of the richest in humour. While one meets some old friends here, one is by no means haunted by the obvious, and to those who seek an addition to their bedside library, this volume can be sincerely recommended.
The primary aim was to distract men who had few dis- tractions, but the compilers had at the same time an under- lying serious purpose. Civilization may be defined in a thousand ways, but under one aspect it is the preservation of a tradition of aspirations, of a conscious desire to control and redirect the instincts of savagery. Now, if one fact emerges more clearly than any other from the mass of War literature, it is that 1914-18 were years in which men had to accept and to accustom themselves to senselessness, brutality and filthiness of body and mind, if they were to retain their sanity and survive. By means of such organizations as the Y.M.CA. and Toe H., however, many great-hearted men and women strove to modify the brutalizing effects of these years. Those who availed themselves at the time of these opportunities to snatch a few moments of escape from war have cause to be grateful, but we of the post-War generation may easily over- look the fact that we also owe to them some part of the preservation of the civilization which we inherit. The collection of the Times broadsheets may serve to stimulate us in our own difficulties, and to remind us of this debt..